Why Commercial Agents Need Specialist Help – Part 2
01 August, 2011 | Web design
Last week’s article ‘Why Commercial Agents need specialist help’ we started to look at how using a designer that specialises in commercial property websites is the best option for Chartered Surveyors and Commercial Property Agents who are looking to update their web presence.
We saw how a specialist that brings insight and knowledge of the commercial property sector can also build your website quicker than a generic website designer and save you money. Now we explore some more benefits.
5. Future Proof Websites
Last week I mentioned that a website could be out-of-date within 3 years. We all know that technology is changing at an alarming rate and therefore it is important that your new website solution has some level of adaptability.
A good example would be when Google launched the Street View application. Commercial property websites built by Resource Techniques for example had the capability to support Street View two days after Google’s launch date. I also work with non-specialist design agencies and they had to do expensive rebuilds for their client websites to be able to support Street View.
Most good property specialists will include technology upgrades as and when they are needed, for clients paying a small monthly retainer.
6. Getting Seen - SEO
What is the point of having the best looking website on the web, if no one finds it
Last week I was looking at a truly beautiful website for a large practice of Chartered Surveyors in North London. This website was well thought out from a graphic and communication design perspective, evoking personality, individuality and engaging the visitor with contemporary design.
Yet when I did a search for Chartered Surveyors in North London or even commercial property in North London they were nowhere to be seen. In fact they were not even within the first ten pages of an organic Google search. Remember, 64% of prospective customers will not go any further than page one and 90% will make their selection within the first three pages of a Google search.
This is all about our old friend SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, the process that ensures you are always ranked higher in a Google search, than every other Chartered Surveyor or Commercial Agent in the area.
Great websites, aside from projecting your differential, need to be working hard as part of your business development process. Specialists that know the commercial property sector understand the terminology and therefore how best to employ the keywords and phrases to ensure your website is visible to prospective business. They can advise you on content creation and how best to optimise for the property sector.
But remember what we discussed last week, only a few include on-going SEO in that retainer. Compare like-for-like and be sure you know what you will be getting for your money.
- ‘Bells and Whistles’ – The Features
What sort of functionality will a really good specialist property website give you;
- Big images: with simple navigation that doesn’t use annoying pop-up windows
- CMS or Content Management System – This allows you to update the content of your website. This will be designed specifically for the needs of a property professional
- Big - Floorplans, downloadable PDF’s, EPC and visual content
- Interactivity – A specialists will give you the ability to support video, Street View and fly-throughs on your website
- Data feeds – When uploading new instructions to your website, the specialist designer can also provide data feeds to any 3rd Party portals that you may use i.e. Rightmove, Estates Gazette etc. This dispenses with manual uploads, saving you time. Often these data feeds are included within the price you pay.
- Compatibility – Commercial websites designed and built by a specialist are invariably compatible with all leading agent management software. If you use something obscure, they can also be adapted quickly for a fee.
- Dynamic Property Search
Property search functionality is much more than just putting a town into a field and getting a list of vacant office space, development land or retails premises to lease. Property sector website designers develop powerful and dynamic property search tools that are packed with functionality.
- Predictive Address Field – Visitors expect this and the ability to be able to search on town and postcode
- Results by Map – Instead of a list of property that fits the parameters of the search, leading designers have search tools that plot all results on Google maps. The best will do this within the website and not open any of those annoying pop-ups. These maps are dynamic, allowing you to zoom in and out as well as a satellite view.
- Customisation – In particular the ability for you to customise the Local Amenities that are listed on any maps that are generated on your website. For example the position of NCP parking, stations etc.
- Refined Research – Filters give the user the opportunity to really target their search by geo-radius, usage, sqm. etc.
- User Accounts – Clients are able to set up an account on your website. They can then establish a profile or several profiles, outlining search criteria and areas of interest.
- Save Functions – This allows the client to save properties of interest, to return to or to track their progress over time. They tend to work very much like a shopping basket.
- Email Alerts – Again setup via the clients individual profile. The client will then be notified, by for example automated email, of any new properties that fit their profile and area of interest. They can also use it to notify them of any changes regards the status of saved properties.
- Don’t Take The Specialists Word For It
Finally, as I’ve mentioned through the articles this week and last, it is important that you do your homework before choosing a specialist property website designer.
Although a specialist with a track record in the commercial property sector is the prudent choice for a new Chartered Surveyor and commercial agent website, not all specialists back up good graphic design with great functionality, SEO or on-going customer support.
Whatever designers you talk to make sure you take some time to speak to four of their existing customers. Try not to rely on the examples the designer gives you, but dig a little further. In particular find out:
- How long was the build?
- hat is the on-going customer support like?
- How much did they end up paying and what did they get for their money?
- How easy is it to make website changes?
Last, but not least, do your own SEO check. Run a Google search for some of the designers existing client websites and see where they are ranked. Five to six should give you a far impression.
By Philip Burrows, Marketing Consultant